Thursday, May 07, 2009

First quarter results offer mixed view of shipping on the North coast

Statistics released this week show that the Port of Prince Rupert has doubled its numbers in the container business at Fairview Terminal, but suffered some setbacks in the bulk goods ports of Ridley Island.

The first four months of 2009 saw overall tonnage decreases at Ridley Island where the numbers fell from 3.1 million metric tons in the first quarter last year to 2.4 million this years.

The main trouble spot was the coal terminal where there was a reduction by 61 percent in coal shipments, to 639,765 metric tons, that as major customers located in northeaster British Columbia scaled back production.

Grain traffic was about even with last year, with wheat up 27 percent, while chemical and log shipments grew through the Port operations.

The continuing bright spot was the success of the Fairview Container port, which despite the current economic troubles, was still able to double their throughput for the first quarter of 2009 compare to the same of 2008.

The port handled 41,043 TEUs in the first three months of this year, most of them containers going to and from China, up sharply from the 21,040 TEUs the port reported in the same period of 2008. The one important factor of those statistics to make note of however is the fact that in 2008, the port was still finding its footing in the international marketplace, so the numbers could be considered an incomplete overall picture of the port so far.

Container traffic has fallen from the final quarter of 2008 into the first quarter of 2009, losing 48% of the volume from that final quarter of last year. Indicative of the current slowdown found across North America and the Asia ports as demand dwindles for items normally sent by container.

There have been a number of items published and posted this week outlining the shipment numbers, we provide some of them below.

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